Florida Orange Cinnamon Rolls

If you have out-of-town guests coming to visit you this summer, they will LOVE having this for breakfast!  It’s a Florida twist on an old classic.  I have made these many times and change the recipe a little each time I make them.  I believe it is safe to say that it has finally been perfected.

Here is what you will need for the dough:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, cut into cubes and softened
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup warm orange juice
  • 1 envelope active dry yeast

For the filling:

  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar (light or dark is fine – I used dark)
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest

For the glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

 

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm orange juice (do not heat it over 110 degrees or you risk killing the yeast).  Do not stir.

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Let it stand for around 5 minutes.  When you see it starting to foam, it’s ready!  It should look something like this.

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Whisk in the sugar, softened butter, the orange zest, and the egg.  The butter is softened, not melted.  You will see little bits of it in the mixture; it will not be smooth.  That is good.  Those little pockets of butter create the flakiness you want in the pastry.

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Stir in the flour, one cup at a time.  It will come together almost immediately.  It is a very soft dough.  Dump it out onto the counter and knead it JUST until smooth and combined.  If you overwork it, you might end up with tough cinnamon rolls.

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Transfer the ball of kneaded dough into a greased bowl.  Cover it and leave it to rise for around an hour or until it has doubled in size.  (When you are rising yeast doughs, it needs to be around 85 degrees.  It was an overcast day so it took mine about 90 minutes to rise to the desired size.  If it’s very chilly in the house, you can always set the bowl on top of a heating pad.  Works like a charm.)

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While the dough is rising, you can prepare the filling.  Mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together.  I like to add some extra orange zest into this step.  (Tip: When you are zesting citrus, ALWAYS zest it over the bowl it will end up in.  While you are zesting, all the oils from the fruit spray everywhere.  You want those… that is where the flavor is.  Let them go into the bowl.  You can even see the oil on the side of the bowl I zested the orange into here.  Don’t waste it.)

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Back to the dough… this is what it looked like after 90 minutes of rise time.

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Roll it out into a rectangle.  10″ x 20″ is a good goal.  I had to trim a little off the short ends of my rectangle to get it into a more “square” shape.  Spread the filling over the dough, leaving a border of around 1/2″ on the long sides so you can get a good seal when you roll it up.

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Roll it up, starting on one of the long sides.  Go slow and be careful with this step.

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The biggest chance for failure here is in the cutting of this roll.  You need to cut this roll into twelve slices.  The easiest way to accomplish this without squishing the slices is with thin string of some sort.  I know a lot of people who use dental floss for this (everyone has it in their house).  I like to use fishing line (shocking, I know) or plastic embroidery thread.  Just mark on the roll where you want to slice and simply slip the string under the roll at the desired spot, tie a simple knot (like in the first step of tying your shoes), and pull.  No squishing.  Perfect every time.

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Put your slices into a greased round pan.  (I used a 9″ pan here.)  Leave some room around each one because you are going to let them rise again and they will get big this time!  Cover the pan and let them rise for about 30 minutes or until they are all touching each other.

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This is what my pan looked like after the second rise.  This took about 40 minutes.  Nice and cozy.  (Now, if you wanted to make these the night before and bake them the next morning, you would cover them and put them in the refrigerator after this second rise.  In the morning, take them out and let them sit on the counter for around an hour before baking them.  They need to be at room temperature when you put them in the oven.)

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Bake in a 350-degree oven for around 20 minutes.  Check them.  Mine actually baked for 22 minutes.  When all the filling looks melted and bubbly, they are done!

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They need to set for around 5 minutes before you glaze them, so mix up the glaze as soon as you take them out of the oven.  Mix your orange juice (use the orange you zested for the first part of the recipe) and powdered sugar.  I added some vanilla bean as well.  I just love seeing all those little black specks in there.

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Drizzle the glaze over the hot cinnamon rolls.

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These will literally fly out of the pan.  They smell amazing.  There will not be leftovers!

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